Walking in El Chorro - the upper gorge by the lakes

Walk at the Upper Gorge at El Chorro
This is mostly an easy walk along a driveable track, with the ascent to the 'saddle' the high point (in more ways than one) and the most strenuous, being up a rough, rocky path.

Overall, the walk is about 3 hours, 7 Km and overall ascent/descent of 360m.

To begin, drive to El Chorro then continue on up past the Bobastro turnoff to a T junction, where turning right you will see the first of the lakes on your left after about 100m.

The lakes and El Mirador
Parking by the popular El Mirador restaurant on the edge of one of the lakes, a short climb takes you to the mirador (viewpoint) itself, where great views over the lakes unfold.

These reservoirs, in Spanish embalses, supply drinking water to Malaga.
The chute and mechanism for feeding the Rio Guadalhorce are very visible from up here.
From the other side of the cliff on which the mirador is perched, the mouth of La Garganta ('the throat') is visible where centuries of erosion by the waters have carved a deep channel out of the rock.
Descending towards the river
Behind the mirador, go past a yellow barrier which stops vehicles going any further.

It's all downhill from here as the track slopes down to the river and start of the gorge.

The mouth becomes clearly visible as the river snakes into it.
The rock here is often eroded into cave-like formations such as these, just after passing through the tunnel on the left.

This leads down to the start of the Caminito del Rey, the now disused walkway down the whole length of the gorge.
The climb to the saddle
A diversion - a path leading up to the right - halfway down (before the tunnel) leads to a steepish climb and scramble up to the 'saddle' which forms the near side of the gorge.
At the top magnificent views are to be had down the full length of the El Chorro Nature Reserve, and the gorge drops away almost vertically 300m down into the chasm.

Just visible in the distance are the iron bridge across the chasm at the end of the gorge and the water tower on top of the mountain at Bobastro.

This is one of the best places to watch Griffon Vultures in flight. The colony lives on or around this cliff face on the opposite side of the mouth of the gorge.
They often patrol close by overhead like this one.
And when the thermals are strong the whole colony, which lives and roosts on and around the opposite rock face here, seems to be in the air at once.
The start of the Caminito del Rey
Retracing your steps down to the track again and continuing on down through the tunnel, you reach the concrete and iron walkway known as the Caminito del Rey (little walk of the King) which begins here at the entrance to the gorge.

The gate is welded and cemented closed, as the Caminito is now closed to the public due to its dangerous condition.
Within a few metres the walkway itself has broken away and is impassable.

At one time it was possible to walk this path the whole length of the gorge almost to El Chorro village, and large stretches are still in reasonable condition.
The walk returns along the bank of one of the reservoirs, the Embalse del Gaitanejo, where there are more caves showing some signs of habitation.

A very tranquil part of the walk, where the only sounds are made by the odd Grey Heron flapping away, or a Cetti's Warbler with its explosive song.

The path climbs to the left and returns to the mirador.